Fly in formation

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

You want to improve teamwork. So you reward group performance, praise any signs of collaboration and prod loners to become joiners.

That’s a good start, but why stop there?

Raising teamwork to the next level doesn’t mean you must hire team-building consultants and send employees on Outward Bound. Take these simpler steps:

Campaign against an enemy. People will band together if they see themselves as fighting a formidable adversary, especially if they view themselves as the underdog. Focus a group’s attention on a fierce rival. If you run a small retail chain, build team spirit by calling for your troops to trounce the big national department stores.

Publish a “team book.” Ask every employee to prepare a one-page biography. It can include a photo, a list of hobbies, personal interests and family information. Collect their responses and assemble them in a bound volume that you distribute to everyone, or create a simple web page.

As employees read through the bios, they’ll become better acquainted with their co-workers. They’ll also bond more readily when they learn what they have in common.

Exchange praise. Play the “anonymous praise” game in which everyone lists what he admires about a specific co-worker. Collect the responses and summarize the highlights in a memo to each team member.

This way, employees see a compilation of praise based on what their peers think of them. By keeping it anonymous, the compliments count even more because the messages—not the messengers—stand out.

Unclog team communication channels. You want teammates to share ideas, but if they’re scattered in field offices or different floors, they may lack “face time” to update each other. Solution: Use your company’s networking capabilities so that employees can inform each other of new developments. For a low-tech option, designate a centrally located bulletin board as the place for team members to post notices, give progress reports and pose questions.

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